Note: Last night on 60 Minutes Stormy Daniels recounted the story of her 2006 one-night-stand with President Trump and the intimidation that followed at the hands of his lawyers. One of the earliest stories to come out of this scandal when it broke was the fact that she claimed to have spanked him with a Forbes magazine that featured him and his family on the cover, which Daniels confirmed in the interview. I am reprinting the January article I wrote about this from Banter M (our Members Only Magazine) since it reveals an aspect of Trump’s psychology that has not been given much attention: the deep shame with which he associates sex.
In her 60 Minutes interview last night with Anderson Cooper, Stormy Daniels recalled an incident that happened the night of her infamous one-night-stand with President Trump in Lake Tahoe, Nevada:
Cooper: He was showing you his own picture on the cover of a magazine.
Daniels: Right, right. And so I was like, “Does this– does this normally work for you?” And he looked…taken back, like, he didn’t really understand what I was saying. Like…”does…talking about yourself normally work?…Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it.” And I’ll never forget the look on his face.
Cooper: What was his look?
Daniels: I don’t think anyone’s ever spoken to him like that, especially, you know, a young woman who looked like me. And I said, you know, “Give me that,” and I just remember him going, “You wouldn’t.” “Hand it over.” And– so he did, and I was like, “turn around, drop ’em.”
Cooper: You– you told Donald Trump to turn around and take off his pants.
Cooper: And did he?
Daniels: Yes. So he turned around and pulled his pants down a little — you know had underwear on and stuff and I just gave him a couple swats.
This is not the creepiest thing that Trump did or said with Stormy Daniels (that honor goes to him saying she reminded him of his daughter – EW!) but it represents the type of sexual behavior I would expect someone like him to engage in. Although the Goldwater Rule has been in vogue concerning presidents and presidential candidates for more than 40 years, you don’t have to be a psychiatrist to surmise that the 45th President might be a candidate for faultfinding personality disorder, a label which comes with a lot of baggage.
I’m not actually diagnosing Trump here – I’m not a psychiatrist, and if the Goldwater Rule is to be broken, it should be broken by people with much more experience in this field than I. But whoever writes about Trump must keep in mind that he’s a prime candidate for this diagnosis.
Mark Osterloh, in his book Fault Finders: The Impact of Borderline Personality Disorder, redefines what we often call Borderline Personality Disorder as Faultfinding Personality Disorder because he believes the word “borderline” has been contaminated by misuse. Also, the word “faultfinding” zeroes in on a key trait that all people with personality disorders share: an obsession in finding fault with themselves and others. The main traits of this disorder are:
Negativity – “Those with faultfinding personality disorder may be the most negative people alive!” Osterloh writes, and this comes through in all of Trump’s speeches, which depict the United States as a hellhole. It also came through in his remark about “shithole countries.”
Narcissism – Faultfinders want what they want whenever they want it and believe the world owes it to them. Even though the story about Trump demanding a “fighting gorilla channel” isn’t true, the fact that we thought it was given everything we know about his personality says a lot about how we take his narcissism for granted as one of his defining character traits.
Projection – Faultfinders are ashamed of their flaws and project them onto others. Among other examples, when Hillary Clinton said that Trump shouldn’t have access to the nuclear button because he “can be baited with a tweet,” he retorted by calling her “trigger happy.”
Self-Sabotage – Faultfinders come close to making decisions or accomplishing something important, but find a reason to wreck things at the last minute. Look what happened with the January shutdown when he came close to sealing a deal with Democrats and blew it all up when he used the DREAMers as leverage for his stupid wall that will never, ever be built.
Many of the best examples of historical faultfinders are autocrats and dictators, and we know that Trump finds much to admire about the ones currently in power, like Duterte, Erdogan, and Putin. But in addition to the aforementioned traits, dictators throughout history often have chaotic sexual impulses. The Roman emperor Caligula held massive orgies, as did China’s Mao Zedong (who may also have been a pedophile.) Peter the Great, Russia’s first emperor, started a secret society for sex parties and kept several mistresses, leading to his death from a gangrenous bladder that may have come from advanced VD. Idi Amin reportedly had at least 59 children by 38 different women. As writer Erin Gloria Ryan wrote in The Daily Beast last year, “One would be hard-pressed to find a world leader in history, especially a Trumpian one…without a closet full of underage or extramarital or piss-covered skeletons.”
Trump, like the autocrats mentioned above, has one of the most debauched sex lives in recent history. He has cheated on his wives, has twenty women accusing him of harassment, assault, and rape, and famously bragged about getting away with it in a leaked audio that, in a perfect world, would have derailed his candidacy. But the Stormy Daniels spanking reveals another aspect of his sex life that has not been examined – the shame with which he associates it.
According to Osterloh, some faultfinders experience such great shame when it comes to sex that “they punish themselves or others by resorting to sexual sadism and masochism.” One of the most extreme examples of this is Adolf Hitler. Renata Müller, a German actress who claimed she slept with Der Fuehrer, said that he asked her to kick him while he laid on the floor. Rumors also exist that he was a coprophile. Since many of the women who slept with Hitler killed themselves (including Müller), and since some of the rumors about Hitler’s sex life came from his enemies in the Gestapo, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. However, sadomasochism and Nazism go together like peas and carrots, as it has been fetishized in the 70+ years following the downfall of the Third Reich. Even during the Third Reich’s brief existence, the language of dominance was on display both in Hitler’s speeches and Leni Riefenstahl’s films, fetishizing the power the Third Reich had over anyone who stood in its way.
Daniels’ allegations, taken with the possibility of Trump’s personality disorder, and the historical commonalities he shares with his autocratic predecessors, should not be dismissed out of hand as “fake news.” If Daniels is telling the truth, then it only adds to the debate currently raging among psychoanalysts concerning the President’s mental state. As that debate continues, I encourage you to read Osterloh’s book, which you can buy on Amazon. While we may not be licensed to diagnose Trump ourselves, if things get worse, we won’t need weathermen to know which way the wind blows.
Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.